Nestling quietly in the soft folds of the eastern edge of the South Downs is the picturesque sleepy village of Glynde.
Most people speed past the village on their commute between Lewes and Eastbourne, avoiding the narrow rural lanes spun between the scatted hamlets that spider out from Mount Caburn. But for the past five years the Glynde Place Estate, boasting a Grade One Listed Elizabethan house, has been the destination for tens of thousands of music lovers flocking to enjoy a three day greenfield showcase of big-name talent known as the Love Supreme Jazz Festival.
Rather like jazz itself, the festival is hard to define and a wide range of musical appetites are catered for, with three large stages blasting out rhythms from all over the globe from midday until 10pm from dozens of well-known acts.
For many of the 28,000 that bought tickets this year, the best strategy to deal with the overwhelming choice appears to be take a comfortable chair and sit near the stage soon to be hosting your favourite artist - this year it may have been Gregory Porter, Herbie Hancock, George Benson or The Jacksons (yes, those Jacksons) – during previous Supremes you could have taken in Van Morrison, Bryan Ferry, Chic with Nile Rogers, Jamie Cullum, Hugh Masekela, Chaka Khan, Jools Holland, Earth, Wind and Fire, or Courtney Pine.
But I prefer to wander through the soundscapes, hearing the sets from the headliners but also investigating the smaller stages tucked around the site, each with its own groove offering a more intimate experience. This way I discover performers and musical genres I’ve not come across before. Several of the bars offer unplugged sets from headliners fresh from the stage (I was told Grace Jones performed last year at the back of a bar – if only I had stumbled across this in my peripatetic perambulations!).
This year I was thrilled by many artists; for instance the sweet gospel-style harmonies of Lasharvu, the screaming sax and vinyl sampling of The Comet is Coming, the James Brown funk of Lee Fields & The Expressions, St Paul and the Broken Bones brought their classic R&B soul on stage big time, the sweet caramelised voice of Gregory Porter was perfect for the balmy sunset on Sunday and George Benson proved he still has his musical mojo on.
Topping the weekend for me, though, was undoubtedly Miles Mosley – with his brilliantly energetic West Coast (Get Down) feel-good sound, locked & loaded coolness and off-the-scale upright bass skills. I’m still on high from that performance.
But there’s also a thriving music fringe going on, DJs and club nights, talks and lectures, films, dance classes and even a fairground - a cocktail of activities to satisfy even the geekiest of music fans.
To get the most from the whole festival vibe, however, you have to pack a tent – the site is skirted by greenfield camping space, serviced by the conveniences you’d expect from a large-scale festival. Staying onsite you’re immersed in the love that the festival makes much of. Each year I meet fantastic people carrying the same smile as me and a laid-back feeling, all happy just to let the Love Supreme wash over them.
For meals, the food market offers something for all palates, from milkshakes to mochas, wraps to roasties, hot dogs to halloumi. There are several bars and even a restaurant on site – but you can elect to keep it simple too, the campsite is full of families cooking their own meals by their tents.
But what if you don’t have tent? Don’t let that stop you as you can book one ready for you on your arrival! You could be glamping, romantically living in a gypsy caravan, sleeping retro style in a boy scout canvas tent, or crashing out in anything from a tepee, Hobbit hut, yurts or a more conventional family tent which has been painlessly erected for you.
And what festival would be complete without a wellbeing area – opportunities to do yoga, have a massage or a healing session are on offer, set further back from the larger stages and close to the area given over to children’s activities – clowning, hut making, arts and crafts (supervised and marshalled by intriguingly dressed adults - I was taken with the ‘Naughty Fox’, a silver-suited fox-headed young man sporting a fine pair of Flex-Foot Cheetahs).
I have become a devout Love Supremian, each year it gets better and this year it seems to have matured into a magnificent celebration of Summer and the sophisticated sounds of jazz, funk and soul, all here in Sussex. So, if you are one of those obliged to burn up and down the A27 routinely, do yourself a favour and take a turn into Glynde for Love Supreme next year. I guarantee you’ll not regret it.
Love Supreme 2018 is from Friday June 29 to Sunday July 1, 2018, at Glynde Place, The Street, Glynde, Lewes, East Sussex.
Get Early Bird tickets from https://www.lovesupremefestival.com